I couldn’t connect to my company’s repository using the latest 1.8.0 - svn failed with the message svn: E120171: Error running context: An error occurred during SSL communication. A quick DuckDuckGo (gosh that’s a mouthful) took me to some mail group where Subversion developers bicker among themselves, but no solution. So I went down to a known stabler version.

All the information here comes from this SO answer.

Uninstall the previous version

Make sure you don’t have an old version of the package installed:

> brew uninstall svn
> sudo mv /usr/bin/svn /usr/bin/svn1.6

In the case of svn, I also needed to remove the version that comes by default with OS X, as Homebrew is not able to unlink the two.

Find out how old versions are called

> brew search subversion
homebrew/versions/subversion16  homebrew/versions/subversion17

The above tells you what svn packages are available. Note that searching for svn instead of subversion returns the current version only for some reason.
So that tells me that svn 1.7.something is called subversion17 in Homebrew world, and it can be found into versions

Install old versions

> brew tap homebrew/versions
Cloning into '/usr/local/Library/Taps/homebrew-versions'...
remote: Counting objects: 1022, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (566/566), done.
remote: Total 1022 (delta 585), reused 873 (delta 456)
Receiving objects: 100% (1022/1022), 250.05 KiB | 428 KiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (585/585), done.
Tapped 98 formula

> brew install subversion17
==> Downloading http://www.apache.org/dyn/closer.cgi?path=subversion/subversion-1.7.10.tar.bz2
Already downloaded: /Library/Caches/Homebrew/subversion17-1.7.10.tar.bz2
==> ./configure --prefix=/usr/local/Cellar/subversion17/1.7.10 --with-apr=/usr/bin --with-ssl --with-zlib=/usr --with-sqlite=/usr/local/opt/sqlite --with-serf=/usr/local/opt/serf --disable-neon-version-check --disable-mod-activation --disable-nls --without-apache-libexecdir --without-berkel
==> make
==> make install
==> make tools
==> make install-tools
==> Caveats
Bash completion has been installed to:
==> Summary
/usr/local/Cellar/subversion17/1.7.10: 106 files, 7.7M, built in 3.1 minutes

Before you install a version you need to enable the whole “getting old versions” thing - you do that with the tap command. Afterwards, it’s just a matter of installing the package I found earlier.

That’s it

Job done.